Salone Special: Spotlight on Africa

At the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2012 a display area of 1400 square meters is dedicated to the African continent. Representatives from 28 African countries as well as products from over 100 food communities and over 27 Slow Food Presidia showcase African biodiversity from the four corners of the continent, from Egypt to South Africa and from Senegal to Ethiopia.

Africa’s presence at the two events is being highlighted through a range of activities, exhibitions and events both celebrating the continent’s rich gastronomic heritage and addressing the challenges to its preservation: the construction of an African food garden, a restaurant serving traditional African dishes, Taste Workshops, Theater of Taste events, conferences on a range of topics from land grabbing to food sovereignty, and a travelling exhibition for visitors eager to discover more about Slow Food’s efforts in Africa.

To commemorate the Thousand Gardens in Africa project, launched in 2011 by Slow Food to create a thousand food gardens that sustain local communities in 25 African countries, a 400 square meter food garden is recreated at the center of the African exhibition area to display a range of produce grown in the gardens from okra, plantains and African eggplants to baobab leaves, moringa, kinkeliba and hibiscus flowers. Bordering the garden, around 50 stands of various sizes host products from over 100 food communities, among which the Slow Food Presidia Kenema Kola Nuts from Sierra Leone, Pokot Ash Yoghurt from Kenya, Alnif Cumin from Morocco and Tigray White Honey from Ethiopia.

Visitors can also interact with the continent’s chefs and producers in a restaurant dedicated to African cuisine. A dozen chefs from countries as widespread as Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Morocco and Madagascar are preparing traditional dishes with locally sourced ingredients that demonstrate the diversity of African cuisine: Egyptian koshari, Algerian Seffa couscous and Malian chicken in mango sauce are but a few of the items on the menu at the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre.

For those keen to sample haute cuisine, Moroccan chef Meryem Cherkaoui of Rabat’s ‘La Maison du Gourmet’ is hosting a Taste Workshop on October 26, where visitors can discover how blending innovative technique and classic Moroccan recipes in order to serve some of the most exciting dishes on the Moroccan culinary scene.

However, the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre is also an important platform to address issues that affect many African producers and which threaten the right to food sovereignty and to good, clean and fair food for everyone. The Africans’ Africa conference on October 25 is a forum for young Africans collaborating in the Thousand Gardens campaign to discuss their individual projects, challenges and the ways in which they combine traditional knowledge and new technologies to feed local communities.

Slow Food’s campaign on the threat posed by land grabbing to local communities and farmers is addressed in the Hungry for Land conference; Slow Food works with Presidia producers and Thousand Gardens communities whose land is targeted by international investors without their knowledge or consent. The Right to Food conference on October 26 reaffirms the human right to food as sanctioned by the United Nations and explores ways of developing sustainable agriculture and safeguarding food production knowledge.

Finally, the travelling Foods that Change the World exhibition targets European consumers and encourages them to reflect on their food choices and the repercussions that they have elsewhere in the world. Over 400 square meters, visitors are taken on a journey through photographic exhibitions, educational sensory activities and a small supermarket that demonstrates the impact of consumer choices on producers. Complete with a screening room for documentaries filmed in Kenya, Ethiopia and Senegal recounting experiences with Slow Food presidia and a small food garden for children, the exhibition also outlines the supply chains of two key African products, banana and coffee. The Four European Cities Meet Africa conference on October 28 relates in further detail how the 4Cities4Dev project became a reality.

Find out more at the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre website.

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